Let me begin by saying I'm a frequent traveler and this was my first cruise. I booked with Carnival because the destinations and time frame feel into place. I have no cruise line loyalty as of this point. However, I will never sail Carnival again. The entire week was a 24-7 sales pitch. Each evening, adult activities between 5 & midnight, had about 32-37 activities. Between 27 & 32 of those activities were gambling, aka spending money. 3-4 of the others were "free analyses" designed to lure you in to spend. Only 1-2 were actual activities I.e. comedy show 30-45 minutes or Game Show 45 minutes.
The rest of the time, there is absolutely nothing to do. It was a seven day waste of money. The excursions, booked through Shore Excursions Group, were amazing and Ill review them in another review. But Carnival treated its as red headed step child because we did not book through them. The relentless selling of drinks, pictures, jewelry, etc made me sick to my stomach. Even information was censored and restricted, as of Carnival was a dictator and we had to pay the price to be rewarded with expensive access to the internet. Tv channels were six out of 42. 14 3463 Carnival sales ads. Even those that we could watch were censored for commercials or does which were not deemed monetarily beneficial. Even the library was restricted to one hour a day, usually during the middle of the day while out on excursion, and I was never able to check out a book.
I attended a high pressure sales pitch from a female Carnival employee called Fun Finds. It was the most horrendous pile of lies, exaggerated claims Ive ever encountered. I had to leave after 30 minutes because I got so angry and sick to my stomach. She claimed she personally knew every ship owner in Cozumel, told us we should not shop at the "kitchy" shops at port, take a taxi to new air conditioned shops, show our Carnival promo card, get the "most incredible deals" and she would be there "to personally escort our items to the boat for us". The shop owners didn't know who she was, we got held hostage in the taxi for $200 briefly, overpaid for crappy jewelry at those shops and she was no where to be found to escort our purchases.
Basically, Carnival held us figuratively hostage for seven days while we were barraged with 24-7 sales pitches and forced to spend money if we wanted anything to do. At our mother daughter massage, we were asked to sit on the table afterwards and the two girls stood between us and the door and gave us a nearly 10 minute high pressure sales pitch to sell us $55 cooling cream, while spewing scientific inaccuracies. Disclaimer: I'm a chemistry teacher.
The food on the Lido deck was surprisingly good and the Truffles restaurant took 1.5-2 hours each night and the food was a minor step up from lido deck. The balcony rooms were amazing. I had the best steward ever. The managers were all white Europeans, all from the UK but all the lower status employees were primarily from Asia. And the UK managers really seemed to close ranks to protect their own when there was a major incident with a female employee from Ireland but would crucify the lower employee for the most minor infractions I.e. Serenity deck chair cushions had stains. Those lower status employees wrt working so hard to give customers a great experience and they were awesome. But Carnival is shameless and the opposite of discreet at constantly pushing you to part with your money and I will never sail with them again.